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Bar dues increase could be in offing (UPDATE)

Lawyers throughout the state might see an increase in bar dues starting July 1.

According to a report given at Friday’s Board of Governors meeting, the State Bar’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2017-18 includes a $4 increase in yearly dues.

The bar increased its dues by $30 in 2014, bringing the total to $254 a year. That amount goes up to $490 when mandatory court assessments are included.

For the $4 increase to take effect for the bar’s 2018 fiscal year, the Board of Governors will need to approve it in April.

At a meeting on Friday, various governors spoke out against the proposal. Governor Kathy Chung said she opposes the increase because government lawyers simply cannot pay for it. Similar comments came from governors Peggy Lautenschlager and Bob Barrington, who represents the Government Lawyer Division.

“For state employees, especially the 1,000 state public defenders and district attorneys whose starting salary is $49,000 with no guarantee of raises, I cannot support this measure,” he said.

Lautenschlager said she could not justify a dues increase to her constituents. She represents the bar’s District 3, which encompasses Winnebago, Green Lake and Fond du Lac counties.

“The reality is that when some of my constituents come down to other counties, they take note that everything is done first class. We have conferences and we have all sorts of trinkets that get handed out for that,” she said. “When the average attorney from Green Lake, Waushara or Ripon comes here, they look at it and see, ‘This is what my bar membership is doing.'”

About Erika Strebel, erika.strebel@wislawjournal.com

Erika Strebel is the law beat reporter for the Wisconsin Law Journal and a law school student at UW-Madison. She can be reached at 414-225-1825.

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